Human Rights

iaw-anHuman Rights are Women’s Rights

Little steps around the world

Beijing, before and after – an overview

  • First World Conference
    Second World Conference
    Third World Conference
    Fourth World Conference
    Five-year Review and Appraisal
    Ten-year Review and Appraisal
    Fifteen-year Review and Appraisal

Fourth World Conference on Women
Beijing, China – September 1995, Action for Equality, Development and Peace


  1. Education and Training of Women
  2. Women and Health
  3. Violence against Women
  4. Women and Armed Conflict
  5. Women and the Economy
  6. Women in Power and Decision-making
  7. Institutional Mechanism for the Advancement of Women
  8. Human Rights of Women
  9. Women and the Media
  10. Women and the Environment
  11. The Girl-child

Other UN Conferences that addressed Women’s Issues:

  • Habitat II, Istanbul, 1996
    World Summit for Social Development, Copenhagen, 1995
    International Conference on Population and Development, Cairo, 1994
    UN Conference on Human Rights, Vienna, 1993
    UN Conference on Environment (UNCED), Rio de Janeiro, 1992

Commission on the Status of Women 58

A Dutch proposal by NGOs on human rights, taken over by the EU, and accepted in CSW. Noted: CSW 52 agreed conclusions, para. 10.

{ADD: The Commission reaffirms that the promotion and protection of. and respect for, the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women, including the right to development, which are universal, indivisble, interdependent and interrelated, should be mainstreamed into all policies and programmes aimed at the eradication of poverty, and also reaffirms the need to take measures to ensure that every person is entitled to particpate in, contribute to and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development.}

Sustainable Development Goals

February 2014 – The latest policy briefs to the UN General Assembly presenting civil society recommendations on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality are available here:

These topics will be discussed during the eighth session of the OWG, which will take place from 3-7 February.
Six previous policy briefs have been provided to the OWG on: macroeconomic policy issues, energy, human rights, global governance, means of implementation, and sustainable consumption and production / climate change mitigation.


IAW in India,  Congress  2007

In 2007  IAW  was invited by ‘The All India Women’s Conference’ to held her Triennial Congress in Delhi, India.
High on the agenda were issues on Violence against Women and Girls, like trafficking of girls, missing girls (girls not allowed to be born). domestic violence and also, like always at an IAW Congress: the political influence of women.Predident en Manorama Bawa

The All India Women’s Conference, lead by their inspiring President Dr. Banorama Bawa, had organised with other women’s organisations a reception by President Pratibha Patil, who was  elected in office in that year, till 25 July 2012. She was  the 12th President of India and she is also the first woman to serve as President of India.
Picture: President Pratibha Patil, surrounded by her body guards, is greeting Dr. Banorama Bawa.

A most graceful reception was held in the presidential palace. There were flowers, speeches and also petitions, asking for a change of law to protect women and girls against violence. Wonderful posters told of the actions of  the women’s organisations in India, for example against Domestic Violence and  Trafficking of Girls.

Six years later – 2012 – women march in Delhi

December 2012 – A violent and brutal gang rape of a young woman by six men shocked the nation. The victim died from severe injuries she sustained during the 16 December attack in a bus.
The incident has caused a international and national outcry. Thousands of women have taken part in a rally in the Indian capital, Delhi, to protest against the recent gang rape of 23-year-old physical therapy student Jyoti Singh Pandey.10a rapedemonstrationdelhi

The women marched with thousands through the streets of Delhi, heading for Rajghat – the memorial of India’s independence leader, Mahatma Gandhi. Many held up placards calling for an end to sexual assaults on women, with ‘Respect women’.
Minister Sheila Dikshit was among the protesters who called for stringent anti-rape laws.

Several other gang rapes occurred since then. According to official figures, a woman is raped in Delhi every 14 hours.

Of the recent articles written of the violence against women and the lack of respect women can encounter in India, here is one of the best, written by Rahul Bose.
With  some pictures, taken during the reception  of President Pratibha Patil of India in 2007.

August 2013 – Attack the problem at its base,
Rahul Bose

The gang rape of a photojournalist in Mumbai has set off a chain of outrage and protest. Two questions are uppermost in people’s minds.Domestic Violence
First, has nothing changed since the horrific incident in Delhi of December 16 last year?
And, secondly, what has happened to Mumbai, hitherto considered a ‘safe’ city for women?

The answers to both questions are complex. December 16 and the protests that followed were a seminal moment for the gender justice movement in India. It brought front and center an issue that had receded to the inside pages of newspapers from the heady beginnings of women’s movements in the 80s.

The FIRs

It threw off the cloak of shame around rape – reported rape cases in Delhi have risen since then as have the registration of first information reports (FIRs). It’s created a law with sharper teeth.

Finally, it brought a realisation to people that taking to the streets with reason can bear fruit. But with 24,000 reported rapes a year (activists say the actual number could far exceed this), to expect to turn the tide of this battle in a matter of months is shortsighted.

Rape is endemic, deep and widespread in Indian society, occurring both outside and inside the home.
Still, it is fair to ask if, in the light of the public uprising after the horror of December 16, anything has really changed where it matters – on the ground?Trafficking of girls

The Mumbai gang rape

Let’s examine the Mumbai gang rape as a case in point. The survivor was out on work at 6pm.
– Do we ask women to return home by then? No.
– Can we blame the police in this instance? No, she was in a secluded spot. In any case, with 50000 police persons for a city of 19 million makes it evident that the police cannot be everywhere. (Besides, do women want a police person shadowing their movements? I venture the answer would be in the negative).
– Can we blame the public for turning a blind eye to the crime? In this case, no, again. There was no one around.
– Can we point a finger at the survivor saying she should not have ventured out alone? No. She had a (male) colleague with her.

So what now?

It has been my case for the last ten years that the only way we can reduce violence against women is to attack the problem at its base and from all sides.YL3Q0015

Attack it in schools from primary school upwards.

We have to educate our boys, we have to reach out to their parents, their neighborhoods, their communities.
We need sustained gender sensitisation workshops for teachers, parents and school administrators.

Gender equality as a subject must be made a compulsory part of the school curriculum. Innovative events, creative activities, projects designed for both children and parents around the issue must be executed month after month all year round.
Children must be motivated to go out into the community to learn more about attitudes towards women.

There are no quick solutions

All of this backed by a strong, unceasing multi media campaign that evolves but never stops, over the next two decades.
There are no quick solutions to a problem emanating out of entrenched patriarchy and misogyny that are fuelled by a culture of impunity.
Lastly a strong anti-rape law is as important as speedy and committed police, legal and judicial action.

Now for the second question that is being ceaselessly debated on all television channels: – has Mumbai become unsafe for women? Undoubtedly so.
But has this happened overnight or has it been creeping up on us over the last few years?
– The incident where Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandes were killed because they stood up against their female friends being harassed outside a restaurant in Amboli;
– the acid attack on the girl on the platform at Bandra station;
– the Spanish woman raped in her home in Bandra;
– the 19-year-old girl gang raped in Ulhasnagar, indicate a trend that has been sending out warning signals over and over again.

In a 2011-12, the gender rights NGO, Akshara, conducted a study in partnership with Hindustan Times, as part of this newspaper’s award-winning campaign, ‘Make Mumbai Safer for Women’. The survey found that amongst 4200 women in Mumbai, 95% of the respondents said they had experienced street sexual harassment, and 46% said they had suffered molestation in public buses.
While all this should have prepared the city for an escalation of crimes against women, the gang rape of August 22 still leaves us searching for answers. As stated earlier in this piece there was really not much anyone could do at that moment.


Violence against women has to be eradicated through intelligently devised, sensitive, intensive work at the school, community and city/district level to change attitudes, all of it backed by strong deterrents in the form of swift, hard punishment through our police and judicial system.
That is the way forward. That is the only way forward.

Rahul Bose, Hindustan Times   August 24, 2013

(Rahul Bose, a well-known actor and activist, has campaigned for over a decade on issues of gender and social justice). See the article on: